Do sonnets have ten or eleven syllables? I feel like it should be ten, but many

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  1. jhamann profile image90
    jhamannposted 4 years ago

    Do sonnets have ten or eleven syllables?  I feel like it should be ten, but many have eleven?

    Especially since most of them are Iambic Pentameter which should be five feet?

  2. JG11Bravo profile image83
    JG11Bravoposted 4 years ago

    To my knowledge, English and Italian sonnets are in iambic pentameter, which would require ten syllables in proper rhythm.  I think a bit of license is allowable with the syllabic count to preserve the quality of said rhythm, though, it just isn't traditional.

    1. jhamann profile image90
      jhamannposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      It is the traditional sonnets that include an 11th syllable.  Some traditional sonnets have 11 syllables throughout!  If someone not familiar was basing their opinions on scansion there would be confusion.  Thank you for you answer.

  3. Twilight Lawns profile image83
    Twilight Lawnsposted 4 years ago

    My answer to your question regarding the form of the Sonnet.

    This is a Sonnet I wrote some years ago.

    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.
    De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum.

    As you may note, this Sonnet follows the rhyming pattern of the English Sonnet with variations. It conforms rigidly to the iambic pentameter required, but whereas the English Sonnet may adhere to the following: ababcdcdefefgg, I have taken the liberty of writing this in the more obscure Petrarchan form; abbacddceffegg,  Please excuse the poetic licence in line 11, in which the final word does not exactly rhyme with the final word in the preceding line (10).  I feel that this choice of word, however, adds a greater impact to the poem as a whole and fulfils the requisites of the Classical Sonnet form more adequately.

    But you, gentle reader (or as you call yourself here, jhamann), must be my judge.

    1. jhamann profile image90
      jhamannposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I feel I need explain this question.  My readers would know that I have written a few sonnets and why would this question arise now?  I was listening to a podcast of a well known female poet, she said 11.  Panic on my part.  Thank you for your answer

  4. moonfroth profile image72
    moonfrothposted 4 years ago

    As will be pointed out with tedious predictability, sonnets usually follow--quite slavishly, actually--the Petrarchian or Shakespearean model.  So many hundreds of thousands of the damn things have been written over the past four hundred years, however, that sonneteers just can't resist "playing" with the rigid form.  So, jay--have at it!  Breathe some new life into its tepid body!  Kick some ass!  re-invent this once-vibrant now done-to-death form!

    1. jhamann profile image90
      jhamannposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I hate to say this moonfroth but I love sonnets, maybe because I have entered into my boring forties.  I don't know, but I think the form has so much to teach and a never ending supply of awesome answers.  You are right though they have been overdone

    2. moonfroth profile image72
      moonfrothposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      I love sonnets Jay.  My knee-jerk comment was aimed more at all the very BAD sonnets out there.  If you want to read some excellent sonnets by a modern poet, track down JAMES HERCULES SUTTON on Linkedin poetry sites.  He's very good

  5. chef-de-jour profile image98
    chef-de-jourposted 4 years ago

    Yes, sonnets can be tricky because there are so many variations on a theme! In short you have: Italian, Meredithian, Petrarchan, Shakespearian and Spenserian plus odd sonnet forms termed caudate and curtal! We don't need to go into detail.

    In the conventional sense a sonnet has 14 lines and they're all iambic pentameter. Most lines have 10 syllables as you have noted but some have 11 syllables - true, but the line is still iambic pentameter.

    A famous example is the opening line of Shakespeare's sonnet 87:

    Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing,

    which has 11 syllables. Sonnet 87 has many 11 syllable lines in fact. These are called hypermetric lines, with what's known as a feminine ending, unstressed. The word feminine is gradually being replaced by unstressed hyperbeat!!
    Shakespeare used 11 syllable lines in other sonnets too...number 20 for example.
    The lines remain iambic pentameter. Poetic license allows the poet to use 11 syllables if needed, the unstressed 11th syllable 'falling off' makes me think there's disappointment in the overall meaning?

    1. jhamann profile image90
      jhamannposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      You have answered my question a hypermetric line eh, it all makes sense now.  I knew that there was a name for what was going on not just poetic license.  Thank you.

  6. Ben Evans profile image69
    Ben Evansposted 2 years ago

    Does a sonnet have  eleven or ten.
    It can be answered in how it is written
    You may seriously ask why or when
    Some writers wont take this standing or sitten.

    But alas says me with a big smile
    I devised my poem of an oddly style
    My rhyme scheme is all awry and mixed up
    It goes ten eleven so its a tossup.

    So question is not why or even how.
    Write it beautifully and make it profound.
    and people will read it and may say wow.
    Its all in the meaning, the rhythm and sound.

 
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